Rhubarb Sima ‒ Raparperisima

It may be a bit too late for this recipe but at least it's now here for the next May Day. Besides, I imagine this would taste great in the summer when rhubarbs actually grow here. And I've heard that garden angelica also makes a good mead.

Different varieties of mead are probably known everywhere in the world. A part of Finnish May Day celebration is nowadays a sweet but zesty mead called sima (usually very mild in alcohol for the reasons I've ranted about before). In the 18th century it was only enjoyed by wealthy people but when the ingredients grew more wildly available it became an appropriate symbol for May Day that has a strong working class echo in Finland. Sima is usually sweetened with muscovado (fariinisokeri) and bittered with lemon but since I don't find lemon an especially typical Finnish fruit I thought I'd try a recipe I found from Härkäpapua sarvista (Irina Somersalo & al., Multikustannus 2007). I scaled down the amounts and it still seemed to work so here you go!

- 1 rhubarb stalk
- 1.5 l water
- 1.5 dl muscovado (or a combination of normal sugar and dark syrup)
- ginger
- a yeast crumble

Chop the rhubarb in small pieces. Put it in a jug together with muscovado and ginger. Boil the water and pour it on them. Stir. When the water has cooled down a bit add the yeast. (Do yourself a favour and don't exaggerate with the yeast. More yeast won't bring more alcohol, more sugar does.) Let the jug stand in a warm place for the next day.

Filter the sima and bottle it. Add a teaspoon of sugar to every bottle to get sparkling sima. Loosen up the tops a bit every day so the bottles won't break. The sima should be ready in about 3-5 days. A common trick is to put some raisins in the bottle so when they float, you know the sima is ready.

Nutritional values / 1.5 litres (counted from the ingredients):
energy 510 kcal
fat 0 g
protein 1 g
carbohydrates 124 g
fiber 2 g


  1. Kiva, raparperisiman ohje! Tein vapuksi sitä ihan perinteistä ja kuten joka vuosi, totesin että sehän on niin helppoa, että voisin tehdä jotain muutakin simaa. Siispä raparperin varsia odottelemaan.

  2. Ready in 4-6 days! I think I will have to try this. It is so pink too--my rhubarb mead has always been yellowish and taken over a month..and it didn't sparkle either. I like the raisin trick too.

  3. Yellowish? A month? Hey, I'd like to see the recipe you use. It must taste quite different too. More on the alcoholic side?

    The sugar trick is common in beer making. The downside is only that you have to be extra careful. Glass pieces are never pleasant to clean.

  4. I used this recipe except no yeast nutrient:

    3.5 cups (between 2.5 and 3 lbs) Clover honey
    6.5 cups (around 1 lb 5 oz frozen) Chopped, frozen rhubarb stalks (freezing breaks the cell walls, releasing the juice more easily)
    1 gal water
    wine yeast

    I'd guess the alcohol content is similar to that of a wine--but now at 9 months old it is quite smooth and nice tasting. Maybe if I used redder rhubarb stalks it would turn out more pink. But right now I'm getting ready for a Dandelion-Rhubarb mead that I'm sure will be pretty yellow :) I'll be posting about it on my blog, d.i. wine and dine in a week maybe.


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